Abstract: Devices that exploit the spin of the electron promise to revolutionize microelectronics once polarized electrons can be injected efficiently into semiconductors at room temperature.
Indeed, the spin of the electron has attracted renewed interest recently because it promises a wide variety of new devices that combine logic, storage and sensor applications. Moreover, these "spintronic" devices might lead to quantum computers and quantum communication based on electronic solid-state devices, thus changing the perspective of information technology in the 21st century.
Since the 1970s conventional electronic microprocessors have operated by shuttling packets of electronic charge along ever-smaller semiconductor channels. Although this trend will continue for the next few years, experts predict that silicon technology is beginning to approach fundamental limits. By 2008, for example, the width of the "gate electrodes" in a silicon microprocessor will be just 45 nanometers across, which will place severe demands on the materials and manufacturing techniques used in the semiconductor industry. Indeed, the cost of implementing a new production line for such devices is predicted to reach $33bn.